Why I Refuse To Apologize For Flying With My Small Children

By
Share
Ad failed to load

My partner and I have always loved to travel together, and when we became parents it seemed only natural that our twins join us on our adventures. In fact, they've been flying since they were 7 months old. I know lots of people cringe when they see a baby or toddler headed down the plane aisle towards them, and with good reason. A screaming baby can certainly make a flight unpleasant, and my kids have had their share of tears at 35,000 feet, but I'm not going to stop taking them on plane rides because of these difficult moments, and I certainly refuse to apologize to passengers for my small children acting their age.

With over two dozen flights under each of their belts and six more planned in the next year, their frequent flyer points balance is pretty impressive considering they're two people still in diapers. No amount of complaints or side-eye will keep us from racking up the miles — or keep our sons from traveling with us.

When there's a screaming baby on a your plane, it's annoying. Before I became a mom, I'd strain in my seat along with everyone else to try and see why the baby was crying. I'd wonder how long I'd be subjected to the noise. Now that I'm a mom and it's my baby crying on the plane, I still desperately want the noise to stop, but my concern for my child matters more to me than my own feelings or anyone else's.

Ad failed to load

What I wish unsympathetic passengers would realize is that when one of my kids is crying on a flight, I'm just as upset as they are. As a mom with a crying baby, it's hard to be on a plane with limited resources and options to try and console them. It's hard to know if they're crying because their ears are bothered by the change in cabin pressure and I should have done a better job of giving them a pacifier or bottle to drink from, or if they're just angry over being forced to wear a seat belt.

As upset or frustrated as I get when one of my babies is crying on a plane, I refuse to get embarrassed by it. I'm doing everything I can think of to try and remedy the situation, and if other people can't recognize that, it's not my problem. I won't be offering my apologizes to surrounding passengers, because my concern is for my child and helping them calm down, not making a stranger feel better about their in-flight movie being disrupted.

Ad failed to load

Just because I don't think I should feel badly for taking my small kids on a plane doesn't mean I don't try to be considerate to my fellow passengers. I do my best to anticipate my kids' needs on board and take whatever measures I can to try and ensure a good flight.

We select flight times based on the kids' nap and eating schedules so we're not taking exhausted and starving toddlers on a plane. We select our seats to be close to the exit for easy on/off access, and we buy out the row when possible so if the kids get the wiggles, they're not disturbing others by playing with cars on the armrests.

I pack plenty of snacks and drinks so we're not relying on the busy flight attendants for drink service. I bring plastic bags for dirty diapers and add the tied off stink-bombs to the main garbage bag that the flight attendants maintain, so I'm not making the tiny restroom smell even worse. I trek to the bathroom every time someone needs to be changed and would never, ever change my child on a seat. 

Ad failed to load

We like to get the airport early and find an empty gate with lots of open seats to allow the kids to stretch their legs before putting them on the plane in hopes that it helps them feel less cooped up once on-board. My kids recently developed the attention span necessary  to watch cartoons, so for our most recent flight I bought them child-sized headphones so no one else would be subjected to the sounds of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

I've seen stories in the news of parents who offer free trinkets to their fellow passengers as a way of apologizing for taking a baby on their flight. I love paper crafts as much as the next Pinterest fan, but I draw the line at shelling out money to make consolation prize packs for strangers when I've already paid a hefty price for plane tickets.

Ad failed to load

There's lots of thought and planning that goes into taking my kids on a flight, so if in spite of my best efforts we have some tears to deal with, I don't think I owe anyone an apology or a pair of earplugs and some free candy for trying my best and coming up short.

I've gotten my share of side-eye from grumpy passengers when one of my kids is crying, and I have no problem ignoring them, but on the whole, people seem to be understanding when a baby is having a bad flight. On our most recent trip last month, I was sat with one toddler while my husband was across the aisle with our other toddler. The three-hour flight was wonderful and the kids were happy and quiet — until the descent. Out of the blue, the child who was sitting with my husband decided he had to sit with me immediately. I tried to explain to him that he had to stayed buckled in next to his dad because we were landing, but he was inconsolable.

We tried bribing him with toys and treats, distracting him with the window and promises of fun once we landed, but nothing was working. I sang, his dad danced, we did everything we could do while being buckled in, but he cried without stopping until we finally landed. His cries were so loud that the pilot could hear him from the cockpit. Rather than blame us for our inability to calm him down, the captain made a joke over the PA system about my son being upset over the recent World Series results.  

Ad failed to load

I felt awful that my child was so unhappy and that he was making so much noise, but it was heartening to have the captain make light of the situation. Most of the passengers around us laughed, and some even stopped us on the way off the plane to commiserate about when their own kids were young and had bad flights.

The bottom line is that planes are open to the public. Parents are going to do the best they can to soothe an upset child, but unless you're going to charter a private jet, flying comes with the risk of other people disrupting your flight. You can bring your fluffy neck pillow and blanket and plan on a mid-flight snooze, but whether it's a crying baby, a chatty seatmate, or the person who has one to many in-flight drinks, no one's promised a noise-free flight.

Ad failed to load

Parents on planes are doing the best they can given the circumstances. Even the most well-behaved children are going to have bad days, but I'm not going to let the risk of some in-flight tears stop me from flying with my children. 

Images Courtesy of Megan Zander (3)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}